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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Softball headed to SoCal for tourney

UW senior pitcher Letty Olivarez has a 2.62 ERA in nine starts for the Badgers, who went 3-1 in a tournament in Florida last weekend.[/media-credit]

After starting the season on a prolonged hitting slump, the Wisconsin softball team lost its first seven games, including all six opening games at the ASU Kajikawa Classic.

However, after making some adjustments to the offense, including shortening up the swings on the ball, the Badgers were able to score 19 runs at the Blue and Gold Felsberg Memorial Tournament last week in Miami. UW went 3-1 in the tournament.

As painful as that first weekend may have been, it has proven to provide necessary experience for the eight freshman players making an impact on this year’s team.


“That first weekend we faced some of the best pitchers in the country, and when you’re an 18-year-old and that’s the first pitcher you see, there’s a learning curve, and I think we had that curve pretty quick,” head coach Chandelle Schulte said. “So now that they have [that success], they [can] capture that and keep going.”

Schulte and the rest of the coaching staff hope the team can continue to accumulate hits and produce runs in this weekend’s Gaucho Classic in Santa Barbara, Calif.

The competition this weekend will be much tougher than what they faced this past weekend, but nothing as fierce as the four College World Series teams they faced in the winless opening weekend.

Although the three wins this past weekend were against lesser competition, the team feels as though an easy weekend was necessary.

“I’m actually kind of glad we did have a tournament like that to get our momentum and our positivity back, just knowing that we can go out there and beat people,” senior pitcher Letty Olivarez said. “The first weekend we had a really tough weekend, so it was really hard to come back from that.”

The Badgers take on more stiff competition this weekend as they travel to sunny Southern California, playing host team UCSB twice, North Dakota State, Drexel and Memphis.

If the Badgers can continue their suddenly respectable offense, they can move closer towards eclipsing the .500 mark and even push towards a winning record.

Schulte provided a blueprint for what the team needs to do this weekend to find success.

“We have to continue to hit; we need to field over .970, and keep our earned run average below three,” Schulte said. “If we can do those three things, we’ll have success.”

Much of the success from last weekend was credited to strong play from several key freshmen.

The bats of Molly Spence and Whitney Massey have given the offense, which struggled mightily in a much-maligned 2009 season, a needed facelift.

Spence, a Wilmette, Ill. native, made her presence felt Sunday with bases clearing triple in the bottom of the fourth inning against Bethune-Cookman.

According to Schulte, Spence had to go through the growing pains of the first weekend for her game to further develop.

“Molly’s been doing great; she’s had a hit in [almost] every game,” Schulte said. “She is so determined to get it done, she’ll do whatever we say, and it’s paid off for her.”

Despite the youth movement this year, the players do not feel there is a divide amongst the team. If anything, it has only made the team stronger.

“We all respect each other; we all play as a unit. When we’re out there we don’t see age,” Spence said. “We play as a team, regardless of age or year, we’re just one team.”

While the hitting early in the season has been inconsistent at best, Olivarez’s pitching has been rock solid for the Badgers.

Olivarez has been the pitcher of record in nine of the Badgers’ first ten games, going 3-6 with an impressive 2.62 earned run average. She has recorded 31 strikeouts in her 48 innings of work.

“Letty’s been throwing great and if she continues doing that, we can continue to ride her success,” Spence said. “We have her back as a defense and as a[n] offense. As long as she continues to throw her best stuff, we can continue to ride her arm.”

Regardless of how successful Olivarez has been on the mound, it has been a concern of how many innings she is accumulating so far this season.

When asked how far and how long the team can realistically ride Letty’s success, Schulte chuckled and gave a concise answer.

“As long and as far as we can.”

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